Nearly three quarters of British consumers (74%) would be likely to return plastic bottles and aluminium cans under a deposit return scheme (DRS) if they had to pay a deposit of just 10p on each one, according to the results of a national poll by YouGov revealed today (28 March).
The report is published as the Government this morning (28 march) announced that it intends to move forward with plans to implement a DRS in England – subject to consultation.
The results of the report suggest a national DRS could be successful – where consumers pay a deposit on a recyclable container (like bottled water or soft drinks cans) and redeem it when they take the container to a secure collection point.
It’s hoped such a scheme would boost recycling rates, reduce recycling contamination and reduce litter.
SUEZ – “We believe bringing manufacturers and consumers together under a deposit return scheme will help the nation recycle more bottles and cans, at the same time as reducing litter and improving the cleanliness and quality of materials returned to manufacturers.”
The poll, commissioned by SUEZ, surveyed over 2,000 adults across Britain and also found that 80% of people believe there should be more public recycling bins to use in the public areas near to where they live, while only around a quarter of people said they could either “always” or “often” find a suitable recycling bin for plastic bottles (26%) or aluminium cans (25%) when they are out and about.
Nearly 40% (39%) of people admitted that they are most likely to simply put plastic bottles or cans into a general rubbish bin – where they are destined for landfill or incineration – if a suitable public recycling bin isn’t handy when they are out and about.
The results of the poll are released alongside the findings of a new report by national recycling company SUEZ, which suggests the most effective deposit return scheme (DRS) for Britain should only target “on-the-go” sized plastic bottles and aluminium cans to yield the best returns; have the maximum impact on litter prevention; and not risk undermining existing collection schemes.
SUEZ says the evidence provided in the report reinforces its position that the ideal deposit return scheme would:
- Only target plastic (PET) bottles and aluminium cans smaller than 0.7 litres, which are typically consumed while “on-the-go” instead of at home and are a more significant cause of litter than larger bottles – with a refundable deposit of 10 pence per container.
- Be owned/operated by manufacturers, but provide the opportunity for local authorities to generate new revenue streams by operating redemption points and local logistics. SUEZ believes a range of secure, public redemption points is needed – not just reverse-vending machines.
- Would not leave local authorities out of pocket by “cannibalising” the more valuable materials (like plastic and aluminium) from existing, effective, household collection services.
- Allow consumers to donate their deposits to other causes or organisations, rather than redeeming them as cash – which would likely be effective at generating significant revenue for good causes suggested by the results of the YouGov poll.
- Only be one part of a much wider system of Extended Producer Responsibility, which would use a range of tools – such as taxation on virgin materials or incentives to use recyclable materials – to drive long-term sustainable production and consumption of goods.
The report, entitled How a Deposit Return Scheme for “on the go” could be designed for the UK, was compiled by specialist circular-economy consultancy, Oakdene Hollins, and models SUEZ’s views on a DRS scheme using both industry data and examples of existing schemes in Europe, the USA, Australia and Canada.
The report concludes that a DRS scheme has the potential to increase recycling rates to more than 80% for both plastic bottles and aluminium cans, and that the overall value of deposits in the scheme could be over £1bn between the two materials.
David Palmer-Jones, Chief Executive Officer for SUEZ recycling and recovery UK said: “We believe bringing manufacturers and consumers together under a deposit return scheme will help the nation recycle more bottles and cans, at the same time as reducing litter and improving the cleanliness and quality of materials returned to manufacturers.”